Monday, May 31, 2010


I am always fascinated by the sheer number of churches. Not the number of physical buildings, but the number of denominations. In the protestant community alone there are Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Baptists, Congregationalists, Quakers, United Church of Christ, etc, all considering themselves Protestants. The Catholics are not as numerous but they have: Dominicans, Jesuits, Franciscans, Monks, Nuns of various persuasions and the Eastern rite, etc. all considered Catholics. In addition there are the Jewish sects, reformed, conservative, etc. And of course there are the Muslims.

All these groups use the same book to preach from. All base their beliefs on the word as written in the Bible. They are the people of the book.

The bible is a long narrative beginning with the creation myth of the world and consisting of many books. All of the books are recorded sayings of ancient people. Not a word is current history. The Christians begin about the last third of the life of the world, which according to the bible is six thousand years old. The Muslims began about fourteen hundred years ago, while Judaism began at the beginning, six thousand years ago. The sheer number of denominations of religion to base their beliefs on the word as recorded in the bible is astounding. No one who wrote the New Testament was alive when the events took place. We, in modern day America have a difficult time agreeing on the events that occurred in the Clinton presidency and we have videos, spoken words, letters, commentators who are still alive when the events took place. The inconsistencies of the bible are many. The various groups merely accept the parts they deem more correct and adhere to them. The variety of religious interpretation lies in the vagueness and contradictions of the bible which owes a lot to the fact that it was recorded from spoken words. It is always difficult to write down precisely what someone meant. I think the problem is that humans, being what they are, are always ready to create uniqueness. Us versus them. The religious sects have used selections of the bible as bricks and mortar to create a religion that they and only they think is correct, except for the resurrection which all Christian religions accept. Religion is a human creation. The bible is a collection of sometimes very good advice written by, we suspect, respected members of the village, but as for stoning women, just maybe they got it wrong.

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